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Cutting up a Whole Chicken

Chopping up a whole chicken takes a whole to master, but after a few times you should get the hang of it.

Whenever the going gets tough, just remember that you are saving money by learning this method; it is always more expensive to buy individual choices of meat as opposed to a whole chicken, which is both cheaper and fresher. Also, you can use the leftover items (such as bones) to make soup and stock, which are useful items in many chicken recipes.

1. Put the chicken on a clean cutting surface, with the breastbone facing up.

2. The first item to remove is the wings; using a standard kitchen meat knife, slice away the wings to be used for other purposes. You must then remove the breast and the leg, one side at a time; the following steps 3 – 9 will show you how to do this.

3. Run your knife along one side of the breastplate, being careful not to go to deep; this is simply a guideline for your next cut.


    4. Deepen the cut by pushing your knife into the chicken, towards the ribcage. As you push your knife further in, pull the meat away from the ribs with your hand. As you go deeper, keep using your knife to slice along the ribcage; this allows you to remove any meat that might be stuck on the ribs.

    5. You will reach, with your knife, the joint where the wing joint meets the ribcage; this point is right beneath the wishbone of the chicken. Your knife will be able to cut through this area easily, as the cartilage is very yielding .  Push your knife down all the way, and you will have reached the cutting surface; you have almost gotten the breast off.

    6. Run your knife through the skin that covers the tail end of the bird to the point where the leg and breast meet.

    7. Pull the breast meat away from the whole chicken, and it should come off with only a slight effort.  However, just be careful not to rip the meat; the breast should separate and stay in one solid piece.

    8. Slice through the leg joint until you reach the area where the leg meets the body. Do not try to slice through the bone, as it is very thick and firm.

    9. Take hold of the leg and pull it behind the bird; while doing this, push your fingers into the back of the joint. You will then feel the joint pop loose, and the bone will come out of its socket. It should now be easy to take off the leg by cutting in and around the joint. Remove the breast and leg of the other side in the same manner (once again following steps 3 – 9).

     10. You can keep all of the leftover bits, such as wing, skin and bones, to make stock.

    11. The meat can be used to your preference, in relation to cooking style and also the chicken recipe you are using.

    Chicken Recipes


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Last Modified: 11/28/11.